Considering that communicable diseases like colds and flu are highly contagious and have no cure other than to run their due course, your best bet is to prevent becoming ill in the first place. Making healthy lifestyle choices during cold and flu season (and all year round) will help build strengthen your immune system decreasing your chances of falling sick. Your immune system defends you from disease-causing microbes, and is responsible for keeping you healthy. If you are one of those individuals that tends to catch a cold every year, consider the following 5 tips to help strengthen your immunity:
1. Get sufficient sleep:
Get enough sleep, so you feel refreshed and rested in the morning. It is recommended at least get 7 hours of sleep each night. Insufficient sleep depresses the immune system, opening the door to colds, upper-respiratory infections, and other nagging illnesses. Also be mindful of your caffeine intake, and do not let it keep you from getting a good night’s sleep.
2. Reduce your sugar intake:
Too much sugar in the diet decreases the number of cells in the immune system that attack bacteria, an effect that can last for hours after a few sugary drinks. Instead, try to eat more fruits and vegetables. They are rich in antioxidants and essential micronutrients like vitamins C and E, plus beta-carotene and zinc. Look for brightly-coloured fruits and veggies like berries, citrus fruits, kiwi, apples, red grapes, kale, onions, spinach, sweet potatoes and carrots. If you feel like you are not eating a healthy balance diet low in sugar intake, you can considering supplementing your daily zinc requirement and other vitamins and minerals as well.
Fluids not only transport nutrients to the illness site, but also take toxins away for disposal. Hence, hydration becomes even more important when you are sick. You do not just need to drink plain water, you can also choose to drink green or herbal teas. They are another immune-friendly vehicle for consuming water. Also, stay hydrated throughout the day and night. Why? Because even overnight, during what amounts to an 8-hour fast, your immune reserves are being drained. Remember, drink plenty of fluids.
4. Consume more vitamin C:
Vitamin C is one of the biggest immune system boosters of all. In fact, a lack of vitamin C can even make you prone to getting sick. Vitamin C boosts the activity of phagocytes (cells that engulf and digest bacteria) in the blood. The body cannot store vitamin C, so you need to consume some every day to maintain your vitamin C levels and a strong immune system. Foods rich in vitamin C include oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, strawberries, bell peppers, spinach, kale and broccoli. Now a days, fresh fruits and vegetables do not contain the adequate amounts of vitamin C. Thus, supplementing with a whole food based vitamin C supplement can help you achieve your daily vitamin C requirement.
5. Go under the sun:
The majority of people around the world are deficient in the sunshine vitamin, putting them at greater risk for all types infections. In general, lower vitamin D levels are a result of multiple factors like poor dietary and supplement intake, sun avoidance, using sun protection, skin pigmentation, and obesity. Although more commonly known to help absorb calcium, vitamin D plays an integral role in keeping your immune system strong. Yet, many of us lack sun exposure, making vitamin D supplementation necessary in order to maintain healthy vitamin D3 levels.
A number of factors affect the body’s immune system such as your lifestyle and diet. Your habits can impact how well the immune system stops germs, viruses and chronic illnesses from affecting your body. Changing bad habits to good ones can have significant benefits to helping strengthen your immune system and overall health. Start the change today!